This past week has been an emotional one. I have been mulling over in my head how to describe the events of the last several days and find myself frustrated by how many times I have typed and erased even this first sentence.
Part of the struggle in figuring out just how I want to share this portion of my story with you, is the fact that I am still processing through it myself, which admittedly had me debating if I was going to share it at all.
Typically, I do not share something I have not fully processed. Not because I’m trying to keep you out of my life… rather, in these blogs you so graciously read each week, it is my goal (as often as possible) to make it worth your while by offering some sort of insight that might be helpful to you.
But in tandem with my own journey this past week, I have been reading the memoir of Dr. Edith Eva Eger titled The Choice. Dr. Eger is a survivor of Auschwitz, and over the past handful of days, I have been reading the portion of her story where she shares her own deep struggle to find the willingness to face the flashbacks and aftermath of the trauma she suffered.
Dr. Eger reluctantly came to the realization that avoiding her feelings held the power to not only destroy her, but to harm her children, and perhaps even future generations. In her realization of this and her reflecting on the healing process, she made the profound statement that brought me to share my current situation with you.
In reference to her own journey of discovery and healing, Edith states:
“No one heals in a straight line.”
It was under the weight of that statement that I realized, perhaps this time, the best lesson I could share with you, the one that might be most helpful in such uncertain times, is what I am learning presently through my own experiences. If Dr. Eger was willing, certainly I can be willing too.
If you have been around MOLV even a little while, you already know some of my story. Particularly as it relates to discovering more about where I "come from"- By that, I mean learning more about my origins and about the family I never knew, until just a few years ago.
But this past week, the “discovering” took a deep and dramatic dive when I had the privilege of sitting with beloved family (who arrived in my life only three short years ago), to learn even more about the generations before me.
I learned some of our history. I listened to stories. I learned about some good things, some fascinating things and even some hard things. I sat across from sweet family who told me how much I resemble the generations before me.
Generations I never knew. Who never had the chance to know me.
A real time example of how far the consequences of our decisions can reach.
But unquestionably, the most profound moment came when these people who have become so precious to me in such a short time handed me the weighty “family history book” and asked me to write my name in the book.
Suddenly, the book's "weight" took on a whole new level of significance.
Now, they did not want me to write only my familiar, married name. Rather, they also wanted me to write the name I was given at birth. The name that only belonged to me for a few short months before substance abuse and a nervous breakdown led my mother to place me for adoption.
And just when I thought I would be able to keep it together, my father turned to me and said, “Write your mother’s name in there too, babe.”
This father of mine, who himself had just arrived in my life three short years ago as well.
As I looked at those two names together on the page, my mother’s and mine, it hit me that this was the first time in over half of a century that they appeared connected as mother and daughter. These two names, that were sealed away. Replaced by new names. New relationships. Roles altered.
And what hit even harder was the fact that our names now appeared on the same page with my father’s name.
Mother. Father. Daughter. Together. Written down as a record for future generations:
These names belong together.
And as I celebrated such a beautiful moment with my family, and what felt like some wrong being made right, I found a deep grief mixing in.
Grief for what was lost.
Grief for what I might have been protected from.
Grief for what could have been.
Grief for what was left undone
Mixed in with all the healing that therapy and faith have brought into my life, and amidst these loving and welcoming new relationships, these wounds, these places to grieve, just sort of surfaced.
Very real, and very worthy of recognition.
Although that day filled some of the places I did not realize were empty, the experience revealed areas of my heart that still need attention.
Some things that seemed settled were stirred, and some things stirred were settled.
How is that possible?
Because no one heals in a straight line.
My friend, if you are on a journey of discovery and healing, and new wounds surface (or perhaps new facets of old ones), please do not be discouraged. Do not take this as a sign that you are not healing. Or that you are stuck. It is often a sign to the contrary.
Uncovering the places that still need attention can be a sign that you are still growing; that you are recognizing the impact certain events had on your life, and you are willing to do the deeper work.
Sometimes what we learn about one event in our lives can shed more light on an area we did not know needed more attention. Most likely because in the moment, we used all we had available to us to process through and go as far as we could then. When we uncover more, we can go further.
Just because we need to circle back with that new information does not mean our healing (up to this point) has not been real or powerful. But it does mean that we can now be ready to heal and grow at an even deeper level.
Now, having said all of that, let me introduce one caveat. If you are feeling stuck, if you find yourself in the same exact spot time and time again, or if you find you can’t get through a certain portion of your story, please find a qualified professional to help you. And remember to have grace for yourself.
No matter what, be kind to yourself, regardless of how the road looks. Believe it will take you where you need to go. While the shortest distance between two points might be a straight line, rarely does the shorter distance reveal the depth and richness that make the journey worthwhile.
As I move further along in my own journey, I am taking inspiration from Dr. Edie (as she is now called), who did not begin her intentional journey to healing until she was a mother of three and entering her education in psychology. Incidentally, she took her inspiration from a fellow survivor, Viktor Frankl.
We all need someone to remind us that the path to healing is rarely linear, but it is always worth the trip.
Where can you find your inspiration for healing today?
I believe in you, and I am cheering you on to freedom.
I highly recommend The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. For more resources to help you on your healing journey, check out https://www.itsmyoutloudvoice.com/resources. Want more? Come and check out our blog archive at www.itsmyoutloudvoice.com/blog.